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Dan Harper | Stories for liberal religious kids

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Most of these stories were written (or adapted from public domain sources) to be used in a classroom setting. A few were originally written to be used in a worship service, and these are marked with an asterisk. You don't need permission to use these stories in the classroom or in live worship services, but you do need permission to reprint or republish them in any form or to use them in an audio or video recording. The links below go to stories on my old blog, my current blog, my sermon archive, or my curriculum Web site.

When I write stories, I work from culturally appropriate sources and attempt to retain the distinctive flavor of the original religion/culture of each story. You will have to decide how you want to present other religious traditions where they conflict with UU sensibilities, whether you will cover over religious differences or not. Some examples of what I mean: Will you ignore that Buddhists affirm that Buddha had 500+ previous lives? — will you adhere to Western understandings of gender, or acknowledge diverse understandings of gender? — will you acknowledge that most Christians believe Jesus is divine? You'll have to judge for yourself, based on your local congregation's needs. Also note that some of these stories were written twenty-five years ago, and you may want to revise older stories to match your current understandings of gender, race, cultural diversity, etc., while avoiding cultural misappropriation. — Dan Harper

 

Stories from Chinese Traditions

Pangu and the Beginning of the Universe

The Land of the Great

Nuwa

 

Stories from the Daoist Tradition

Frog in a Well

The Yellow Emperor

The Quail and the Bird Called P'eng

Planting a Pear Tree

The Useless Tree

 

Stories from the Confucian Tradition

The Miracle Birth of Confucius

 

Stories from the Hindu Tradition

The Pool of Enchantment

Arjuna's Choice

The Hymn of Purusha

 

Stories from the Jain Tradition

Sayyambhava Finds the Truth

 

Stories from the Buddhist Tradition

Buddha Teaches Meditation

Visakha's Sorrow

The Shattered Tea-cup (Zen Buddhism)

 

Jataka tales (stories of Buddha's previous lives):

The Little Tree Spirit

The Frightened Rabbit

The Dhak Tree

King Usinara and the Huge Hound

The Two Friends

The Quails and the Net

The Miracle Birth of Buddha

 

Stories from the Sikh tradition

Guru Nanak and the Woman Whose Son Had Died

The Raja's Son

 

Stories from Indigenous North American Traditions

Northern Ohlone Creation Myth

The Accursed Lake, from the Tigua people

The Red-Cedar Sculpture of the Woman Who Had Died, Tlingit people

Navajo Creation Story, part one

Navajo Creation Story, part two

Coyote Creates Human Beings, from the Miwok people

 

Stories from African Religious Traditions

Spider Steals Nzambi Mpungu's Heavenly Fire, from the Kongo

The Moon and the Hare, from the San people

The Doctor Who Rode a Hyena to Mecca (Hausa tale)

 

Stories from Afro-Caribbean Traditions (Orisha Devotion)

The Golden Chain

 

Stories from the Jewish Tradition

Standing on One Foot

The Backwards Alphabet

The Fox and the Fish

 

Stories from the Hebrew Bible

In the Beginning

The Garden of Eden

* How Moses Gained Freedom from the Pharaoh

* Moses and the Golden Calf

David and Goliath

Saul and David

Abigail and David

 

Stories from Ancient Greek Religions

The Story of Demeter and Persephone, part one

The Story of Demeter and Persephone, part two

The Story of Demeter and Persephone, part three

The Story of Demeter and Persephone, part four

The Story of Demeter and Persephone, epilogue

Perseus and Medusa

Perseus and the Sea Monster

The Punishment of Prometheus

 

Stories from the Christian Tradition

Two Miracle Birth Stories of Jesus of Nazareth

* How To Feed Five Thousand People

The Empty Jar

* The Story of Palm Sunday

* Jesus in Jerusalem

 

Stories from the Islamic Tradition

Miracles at the Birth of Muhammad (peace be upon him)

The Man, the House, and the Cat (Sufi tale)

The Doctor Who Rode a Hyena to Mecca (Hausa tale)

 

Stories from the Unitarian Universalist Tradition

* The Story of the Flaming Chalice

The Mood Pillow (story from Little Women)

 

Famous Unitarian Universalists

* Henry Thoreau: Rapt in a Revery

John Murray Sails to the New World

John Murray and the Rock

Theodore Parker and the Loaded Pistol

Theodore Parker and the Turtle

* P. T. Barnum's Elephant

 

Holidays and celebrations observed by Unitarian Universalists:

* Connected by Water (Water Communion)

* The Old Story of Thanksgiving

* The Christmas Eve Candles

* Maja Capek and the Story of the Flower Celebration (Flower Communion)

 

Made-up Tales

The Golden Memory Box

* The Three Children Who Left Home

 

Video stories

Links to 50 video "stories for all ages" used in online worship services during the pandemic.

 

Stories by other people

Links to stories I've used in UU religious education settings. Many of these were written by UU authors. I maintain this list for myself, and it's by no means comprehensive.

Books

From Long Ago and Many Lands by Sophia Lyon Fahs, PDF of the classic UU collection of stories.

Jataka Tales and More Jataka Tales by Ellen C. Babbit (1912, 1922), folk tales from the Buddhist tradition giving accounts of Buddha's previous lives.

The Indian Story Book: Containing Tales from the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, and Other Early Sources by Richard Wilson (1914), lengthy stories from India.

UUA resources

Stories from the UUA's Tapestry of Faith curriculum series, 450 stories, some of which are excellent; but it's so frustrating to sort through the clunky alphabetical list. Index please!

CLF stories

The following stories were part of the old Between Sundays curriculum from Church of the Larger Fellowship (curated I believe by Betsy Hill Williams), and are all well worth looking at:

Stories from non-Western religions:
Mabouya, Chief of the Well, anonymous adaptation of a Haitian story
Krishna, Champion of the Oppressed, Hindu story adapted by Sophia Lyon Fahs
The Road to Olelpanti, Native American story adapted by Sophia Lyon Fahs and Alice Cobb
The Half-boy of Borneo, Borneo folk tale adapted by Sophia Lyon Fahs and Alice Cobb

Stories from the Hebrew Bible, retold by UUs:
Moses in the Bulrushes, from Timeless Themes
Moses and the Burning Bush, story from Timeless Themes
Let My People Go, story from Timeless Themes
A Free People, story from Special Times
The Ten Commandments, story from Timeless Themes
Jonah and the Large Fish, story from Timeless Themes
A Great Miracle, story about Hannukah from Special Times

Stories about Unitarian Universalism:
Four Unitarian Universalist “Saints”: stories about Samuel Joseph May, Elizabeth Blackwell, Whitney Young, and Amos Peck Seaman, from Special Times
The Boy Who Collected Beetles, story about Charles Darwin by Margaret Gooding
Stefania's Story, a true story about being a UU kid by Margaret Gooding
The Story of the Flaming Chalice, by Noreen Kimball

Other stories:
The Grumps, story from Treasure Hunting
Mark and Paul, by Pia S. Muran-de Assereto, UU in Italy
The Children's Crusade, story about Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., by Kate Rohde

Stories about God
Stories from “Stories about God,” the classic feminist curriculum for gr. K-2 by Mary Ann Moore, hosted on the CLF Web site. Stories from this curriculum were reprinted in the book Hide and Seek with God, available on Google Books as a preview and from the UUA as a paperback or an ebook. The CLF Web site doesn't contain some of the more explicitly feminist stories, e.g., “God Is Like a Mother.”
Hide and Seek with God
The Mystery of God
God Is in Each One of Us
God Is Like a Father
Being with God in Prayer
The Spirit of God Is There When Someone Dies

UU and Me archives
In addtion to the stories above, look through CLF's UU and Me archives.